By Tung-Hui Hu
We may perhaps think the electronic cloud as placeless, mute, airy, and unmediated. but the truth of the cloud is embodied in hundreds of thousands of huge information facilities, anyone of that could use as a lot electrical energy as a midsized city. Even a lot of these facts facilities are just one small a part of the cloud. at the back of that cloud-shaped icon on our monitors is a complete universe of applied sciences and cultural norms, all operating to maintain us from noticing their lifestyles. during this e-book, Tung-Hui Hu examines the distance among the genuine and the digital in our knowing of the cloud.
Hu exhibits that the cloud grew out of such older networks as railroad tracks, sewer strains, and tv circuits. He describes key moments within the prehistory of the cloud, from the sport “Spacewar” as exemplar of time-sharing pcs to chilly struggle bunkers that have been later reused as information facilities. Countering the preferred conception of a brand new “cloudlike” political strength that's dispersed and immaterial, Hu argues that the cloud grafts electronic applied sciences onto older methods of exerting energy over a inhabitants. yet simply because we make investments the cloud with cultural fantasies approximately defense and participation, we fail to acknowledge its militarized origins and beliefs. relocating among the materiality of the know-how itself and its cultural rhetoric, Hu’s account bargains a collection of recent instruments for rethinking the modern electronic atmosphere.
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Extra info for A Prehistory of the Cloud
It places the digital cloud in dialogue with objects and spaces on the other side of the analog/digital divide. Both interacting with and stepping back from the current moment, it explores the limits and potentialities of a slower form of writing that takes seriously the temporal disjunctions and dislocations within the idea of the cloud. In doing so, I hope to shed light on the hybrid construction I have called the sovereignty of data, a construction that joins war and security, users and use value, participation and opposition.
5 billion fiberoptic cable across the Arctic will shave between twenty and sixty milliseconds off the route from Tokyo to London for stock market traders, but the toxic metals used in their electronics inevitably end back up in the bodies of laborers manning poorly regulated disassembly plants in China. 5 Their bodies are absent from the picture, just as the Chinese bodies of railroad workers are absent from nineteenth-century railroad photographs. When cloud computing enters into the picture, this puzzle becomes particularly complicated, because the cloud buries or hides its physical location by design.
But the relatively recent gouges and tire marks in Ruwedel’s photograph suggest that the railroad has not been swept aside entirely by new technologies. In fact, the relationship between old and new is a complicated one, because beneath the abandoned railroad bed from the nineteenth century lies fiber-optic cable, technology of the twenty-first century. In 1978, the track’s owner, the Southern Pacific Railroad, realized that it could sell excess capacity on its network—heretofore used for internal communications, such as train signaling—to corporate customers.